13 March 2015

Ordaining Women

Lately I’ve been thinking that I must have lived something of a privileged life. There are two major controversies going on about women and I have not experienced any of what so many are saying is happening. The first issue is a secular one - the pay that I’ve gotten has been the same as men in the same position and same time in service. The jobs were just that way. That is not the topic of this post.

The other issue is church related as you can tell from the title. There seems to be a rising wave of women and men in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, LDS, that think that women should be ordained into the priesthood. The main complaint seems to be that the women are not being treated equally nor are they being listened to because they do not have the priesthood. They seem to think that being ordained will solve those issues.

Wake up folks. Being ordained will not make any difference to the men who hold the priesthood in listening to women or in treating them equally. Women changing their ordination status will not change the men’s behavior. The only thing that will change the men’s behavior and attitude is educating them and the upcoming generation to the role of women in Our Heavenly Father’s plan as equals to men. The priesthood leaders do need to be told how things are perceived and felt by some women. Their eyes need to be opened to a different point of view. I do not believe that Church leaders have overlooked some aspects on purpose to keep women in a lesser position. I do believe that they just didn’t think about some things and continued doing them the same as always. I never noticed that women didn’t offer prayers during General Conference until it was pointed out to me. I figure that the general authorities for whom English is second language felt the same way about English only prayers during General Conference.

When local priesthood leaders are not listening to the women leaders, then those men need to have their eyes and ears opened. Pray for their eyes to be opened and their ears to hear. Tell them that you think and feel you are being ignored. If that doesn’t work, then there is a chain of command to work through complaints. Work that chain of command. Each and every woman that is not listened to needs to work that chain of command to bring attention to that chain of command that there is an issue with one or more men. Work it up as far as you have to. Pray at each step. Yes, it will take time and effort. Eventually you will be heard and changes will be made – hopefully both by your prayers and the mundane administrative process – to have a change of attitude in the current leaders or to have a new leader with a more open mind.

The LDS church is a bureaucracy. It takes time for things to work through the system. It takes time for things to change. Deal with it. Work the system. Flood the system with complaints. Don’t try to openly disrupt it. That only makes some dig in the heels that much more. Priesthood holders are men for the most part trying their best to do God’s work here on earth. Some are going to have ancient thoughts and behaviours. Some are going to be more open. It may be partly local culture. It may be partly old fashion ideas still running around. It may be old wives tales that are still mistakenly believed.

I personally think that women have all the priesthood power and authority they need to do their work here on earth without being ordained. There are ordinances that require that ordained priesthood power. There are some that don’t, especially in a time of need. Think about the fact that men have to be ordained to enter the temple and women do not. Does that show that women are less?

There are separate but equal jobs that men and women have on earth. At times it may feel like women are considered less than men, but is that really true? Or is it that the men are being protective of women?  Some women may think that they don’t want or need protection. Well, deal with it. I think men are pretty much hard wired to act that way toward women in general and especially family. (Something that the Twilight Saga got right with how protective Edward was of Bella.) Women are equally protective of family and the more vulnerable in general and I think pretty much hard wired that way too. The image that comes to my mind is the father/husband outside the home protecting all within and the mother/wife ready to protect all within if needed. Equal but different roles.

So maybe women don’t need protection so much anymore. Women and men generally have equal opportunities in our modern world. Women and men are more equal now than in the past. Perhaps the men have not yet realized just how equal. Women need to learn and understand that men do not see things the same way as women, sometimes they don’t see at all. They do not think the same way as women, sometimes they don’t think. Patience and education is needed for men and women. Men are not mind readers and Heavenly Father isn’t going to tell them because women are very able to speak their own mind and heart.

I personally think there are still good reasons to have times and meetings with just your own gender. Husbands and wives will share what happens in the Relief Society and Priesthood meetings. Home teachers will share with the single sisters. All of the sessions from General Conference are published for all to read.

As stated at the beginning, I have not seen any of this first hand. The women leaders I’ve talked with have not experienced this with one exception. The exception was in dealing with a deaf brother in the ward some 30+ years ago with an older bishop and a sister that was doing the translation. Otherwise the priesthood leaders have asked for and gotten and accepted input from the women leaders in the wards that I’ve been in. There has been a wide range of ages in the priesthood leaders in the various wards that I’ve been in. That should not be taken to mean that I think that it is not happening.

I do not believe women need to be ordained to the priesthood to be heard. They do need priesthood leaders that are open and listen. Women do need to speak up and if a priesthood leader is ignoring them, then work the system. And everyone needs to pray.

My thanks to Nan, Christine, and Tiffany for our conversations that added to this post.